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Budget handout begins

SCHOOLS' share of the pound;1 billion additional money for education announced in the Budget will be paid in full by the Scottish Executive, Donald Dewar, the First Minister, has confirmed.

The handout means an extra pound;86.6 million, most of which will go directly to schools for expenditure on books and equipment.

The cash will therefore bypass education authorities already chafing at lack of room for manoeuvre in spending money from the Excellence Fund. Mr Dewar said his decision "gives every school the freedom to meet particular needs. It gives them the choice and responsibility that goes with it."

From next month every primary will receivesums for literacy and numeracy work ranging from pound;3,000 for the smallest to pound;9,000 for the largest. Secondary heads will have between pound;30,000 and pound;50,000, according to the number of pupils, which can be spent on staffing as well as on books and equipment. Their focus is expected to be on improving the performance of the youngest pupils.

Brian Monteith, the Tories' education spokesman, called for the money to be put on hold pending the outcome of the McCrone inquiry. "The Government has not made it clear how it intends to fund any new teachers' contract and council taxpayers cannot be expected to stump up further."

Leader, page 14

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